September 2020 Economic Brief

For a ninth consecutive month…

Employment is down sharply and unemployment is up in the Greater Regina Region. Pandemic related labour market contractions are expected to continue through remainder of 2020 with more layoffs/permanent furloughs. However, job losses are showing signs of slowing. Employment was down by 12,300 when comparing to August 2020 to August 2019. This represents a slowing in job losses compared to previous months: a 13,800 decline (April 2020 vs. April 2019), a decline of 20,500 (May 2020 vs. May 2019), a decline of 22,400 (June 2020 vs. June 2019), and a further decline of 16,200 (July 2020 vs, July 2019). Despite the majority of indicators in decline, housing starts and residential building permits, a leading indicator of home construction, were bright spots.

  • Total employment in the Greater Regina Region was down -8.8% or -12,625 positions in January to August 2020 over the same period in 2019. At the provincial level, year to date employment decreased by -32,187 or -5.6%.
  • Year-to-date employment in August 2020 was up over the same period in 2019 in Finance, insurance, real estate and leasing (225), Professional, scientific and technical services (213), Information, culture and recreation (600), other services (1,313), and Public administration (575).
  • Year-to-date employment in August 2020 was down in Agriculture (-638), Resource Extraction (-475), Utilities (-1,175), Manufacturing (-125), Wholesale and Retail Trade (-3,325), Transportation and warehousing (-338), Business, building and other support services (-463), Educational services (-950), Health care and social assistance (-375), and Accommodation and food services (-4,988).
  • Despite robust housing start data, year-to-date August 2020 construction employment is down by 2,750 positions from the same period in 2019.
  • The average year-to-date unemployment rate advanced from 4.9% in August 2019 to 9% in August 2020. Year-to-date, the number of unemployed is up 5,475 in August from August 2019. In addition, the number of those of labour force age but not in the labour force increased by 11,100 over the same time period as some workers have withdrawn from actively seeking employment until prospects improve.
  • July 2020, total year-to-date housing starts are up by 90 units or 31.1%. Year-to-date increases were observed in all sub-categories: singles (13 units or 10.8%), semi-detached (2 units or 7.1%), row (25 units or 35.7%), and apartment and other types (50 units or 70.4%).
  • July 2020 year to date building permits are down -12.4% over the same period in 2019. Sub sectors that posted increases were limited to residential (7.9%). During the same time period industrial (-53.0%), commercial (-17.0%), and institutional and governmental (-49.7%), posted declines.
  • The average year-to-date Housing Price Index Benchmark Price is down from   $266,875 in August 2019 to $270,088 in August 2020.
  • The Bank of Canada cut its benchmark interest rate to 0.25%.In 3 rate cuts on March 4, March 13, and March 27. The central bank already cut its rate to 1.25 per cent at a previously scheduled meeting on March 4 to help counteract the impact of the coronavirus. The unscheduled rate decisions on March 13 and 27 shaved a further percentage point from the rate as a proactive measure to boost the economy amid COVID-19 fears.
  • 2019 Regina Census Metropolitan Area population was up 1.9% over 2018 to 261,684 on the strength of international and intra-provincial migration. The release of 2020 data is expected in February/March 2021.
  • The Conference Board of Canada forecasts Regina real GDP to drop by 4.6% in 2020 after easing by 0.1% in 2019. Real GDP is expected to advance by 5.4% in 2021.